my heart has been whispering these lines to my brain for a while. So I decide to write them down.
There are moments I feel like I have had too much. God grants me a good part-time job, a free ticket to Paris, a good place to stay, loving parents and a group of friends that cherish and treasure me. And above all, He gives me the faith that I never feel like I deserve.
Do you know the story of when prophet Moses came to meet Pharaoh and inform him of God’s message? Pharaoh was enraged and asked the magicians from all over Egypt to come and compete with Moses and his God’s power. After Moses turned his staff into a snake, the magicians prostrated and proclaimed their belief in God despite Pharaoh’s fury.
When people analyse this story, the focus is often on Moses (pbuh) and Pharaoh. Little is discussed on the magicians and the effect of prophet Moses’s message and action in transforming their heart. They are those that nobody expects to have faith; they are the symbols of a society that are engaging in practices against God’s wish, and they do not appear to be significant characters of this story
And yet, for me, these magicians are those I relate to most. Like them, I used to engage in polytheistic practices that God dislikes. Like them, I was not somebody who ‘naturally’ has the qualities of a believing person. In contrast, I was spoiled, selfish, and wasteful and My teenage years were filled with stress, anger and angst, and at one point I saw the world with a nihilistic stance.
Yet, Allah is so merciful that He showed me Islam and granted me this beautiful thing called faith.
Faith has transformed the way I think, the way I perceive my life and what I want to do with it. A few days ago I looked at photos of myself a few years ago and tried to remember how I was at the time.
I used to be so ambitious and career-oriented. I used to think that pursuing your dream is my everything, that I would achieve happiness by acquiring what I desire. And what did I want most? I guess it was recognition – that I was capable, that I was special, that I should be loved.
However, that desire has somehow gone. I have accepted that I am ordinary, weak and limited in many senses. But as opposed to feeling miserable because of this, I am actually happy, as I understand that God does not need me to be the most successful and most prosperous human being on earth. What He wants to see is how I use the faculties that He gives me to worship Him and improve myself.
Thus, I no longer have that ambitious long-term goal of being successful. Rather, everyday I wake up and think about what I can do today, this week and this month so that I can become a better servant of God.
They can be ‘worldly’ projects like trying to make a short film about Islam/Muslims, getting involved in projects to help other Muslims, or completing my thesis on textbooks’ representation of Muslims in order to make some changes in the ways history of Islam is taught (hopefully).
But mainly they are small things like praying on time, making a dua consistently, trying not to waste things, helping the less fortunate, making dua for them, or simply not cursing when an obstacle hits me.
Sometimes, it can just be reflecting and saying alhamdulilah when seeing the mercies and wisdom of God manifested in the world around me.
The more I try, the more I fail, the more I see my deficiencies, the more I realise that disciplining one’s soul and holding to faith is indeed a lifetime project, as any struggle can reach a conclusion or on hold, but the struggle with your own soul will never come to an end.
I’m still faulty, impatient, emotional and selfish. I still expect too much from others to the point I’m left disappointed and unable to forgive. I still hold onto this world and have not yet tasted the pure sweetness of ‘La ilaha illallah“.
But I tried, have tried and will try. Because I really want to meet God one day and be the ones He will be pleased with. Because if He is not pleased with me, everything is meaningless.
Oh God, what have I done that you have given me so much? Thinking of the bounties you bestowed on me makes me cry like a baby. I wish I could articulate what my heart wants to say
Then the word comes to my mind. Alhamdulilah. Yes, that’s what my heart utters: Alhamdulilah.